Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill

Book review by
Barbara Lawrence, Common Sense Media
Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill Book Poster Image
Rafe goes to camp, faces bullying, copes with gross humor.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Like the other books in the Middle School series, there is some valuable insight into bullies and bullying. There's also a pro-reading agenda. Bunkmate Norman (aka Booger-Eater) is an avid reader and entices book-adverse Rafe into becoming a book lover. Norman recommends many popular tween titles, including Holes and The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Positive Messages

Rafe is known for his perseverance in the face of adversity. At camp he and his bunkmates are bullied incessantly. Rafe helps his cabin pull together to avoid being persecuted by the Bobcats. Rafe also helps Norman shake "Booger-Eater" the nickname that has haunted him summer after summer. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

As is typical of this series, Rafe is always in trouble with the authorities, in this case camp director Major Sherwood, aka "The Dictator." In the end, Rafe chooses helping a friend over his own comfort. Adult characters for the most part are not helpful and portrayed as stupid or insensitive. 

Violence

There's a wide variety of bullying at camp --not particularly violent, but very mean spirited words and pranks. The adults at the camp consider it "all in fun," but it isn't. 

Sex

Rafe is attracted to the lifeguard/math teacher at camp. His fantasies about her are benign and age-appropriate. The Bobcats steal bras from the girls' camp and hang one on the flag pole.

Language

No swearing, but a lot of gross slang, including lots of toilet humor. 

Consumerism

Bunkmate Norman is an avid reader and there is a nice subcurrent of books throughout the story. The authors plug many popular tween reads as well as the other three books in their Middle School series. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The Bobcats sneak off at night to smoke. Norman's dad is abusive and drinks."Bad dads" are depicted in a comic-like illustration drinking and smoking.  

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill, is the fourth book in the series following Middle School: The First Years of My Life, Middle School: Get Me Out of Here!, and Middle School: My Brother Is a Big, Fat Liar. Although there's an underlying anti-bullying message, there's also a lot of gross humor, and protagonist Rafe isn't as interesting a character as in the first two books. He does help his bunkmates, but the book is missing the interesting underlying conflicts that drive him. Still, tweens will find this a good quick read with lots of great illustrations. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5, 8, and 14 year old Written byLikronsta October 2, 2013

Wonderful book for kids

This book is good for kids, it teaches them that the adults are people too and no smarter than the children. People that create crazy rules like going 2 times i... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byKedar Miller July 26, 2013

Summary of Middle School:How I survived Bullies,Broccoli,and Snake Hill

This book was about Rafe Khatchadorian and his story of Camp Wannamorra.Ok so in Rafe previous books there is always this problem and rafe has to figure out how... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old June 29, 2013

awsome

a very good book for kids 9 and up

What's the story?

Rafe arrives at Camp Wannamorra and discovers it's a summer school/summer camp with lessons every morning! He also finds out he's in the "loser cabin," The Muskrats. The Bobcats, the "cool cabin," have labeled him and the other Muskrats "Dead Meat" and take every opportunity to bully them with words or mean pranks. Led by their leader, Doolin, the Bobcats are the worst kind of bullies. Their sole mission at camp is to make life miserable for the Muskrats. Adult characters for the most part are not helpful and portrayed as stupid. Major Sherwood, the camp director, considers the bullying harmless razzing and all part of camp fun. Rafe unites his bunkmates and gains some short-lived relief from the Bobcats. Although Rafe ends up being kicked out of camp (no spoiler here, Rafe tells us himself in the first few pages), he does so to help his friend Norman.

 

Is it any good?

This fourth book, which sees Rafe continuing his daily battles with bullies, is the least interesting of Patterson's Middle School series, with a less cohesive plot and characters. That said, there are some interesting twists. The scary bunkmate Legend turns out to have a kind heart and helps protect the other Muskrats from the bullying Bobcats. Norman, whom Doolin had given the camp nickname "Booger Eater" years ago, reveals to Rafe a bit about his unhappy home life and abusive father. For Norman, coming to Camp Wannamorra is a picnic compared with a summer at home.

Norman's love of reading is his key to survival, and he's able to turn Rafe on to the joy of books. Ultimately, even with its weaknesses, the book's middle school humor and engaging illustrations will appeal to many readers.

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • With the help of bunkmate Norman and some extra time on his hands, Rafe discovers a book (The Invention of Hugo Cabret) that turns him into a reader. Look over this list of Essential Books for Kids and Teens to find a great read. 

  • Like the other books in this series, Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill explores bullying, sometimes with humor. What can you or your friends do if you are bullied? How can bullying with words be as hurtful as physical bullying? See the Common Sense Media article "Bullying is Everybody's Business."

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